Waiting for Liberace

Several years ago we were asked by our client, a convent, if we were able to sell a Steinway Grand Piano for them.  This piano had been sitting, unused for over thirty years, but we were very excited to have such a “Grand” and we thought expensive piece to sell.  However, because of its age and the long period of non-use, we found that all of its metal parts would have to be replaced and we were hit with a “Grand” surprise as to its resale value, which basically consisted of a piano frame and bench.

To begin with, we took well over thirty pictures of the piano and then contacted the Steinway dealer here in Tucson.   He graciously commented on each picture and then told us that the value of the piano could run from as low as a few thousand to as high as seven thousand dollars.  To say the least, these values were much lower than we had anticipated, but at least we had a realistic base with which to work.

We then contacted the corporate offices of Steinway in New York to see if we could find out any historical information on this particular piano.  With serial number in hand (which we located on the piano itself) the Steinway people we spoke to were more than cooperative and were able to provide us with the date the piano was completed (about 1909), the first person it was sold to and even the color of the original wood (it turned out that during its long lifetime the natural wood had been painted over, a point that was necessary to know at a later time).

Next challenge, how to market and get the highest price!!

I found piano resellers on the internet and immediately sent an e-mail to several.  Within hours I actually got a response from one in Chicago who offered us about $2500.  We were disappointed with the offer and decided to wait.  Several days passed and we also received several phone calls from the Chicago prospect who was now offering us five thousand dollars…still too low! It was now Saturday night and I decided to phone a dealer in Virginia who specialized in Steinway piano restoration (I should get a life).  I figured that if I left a message, they might get back to me during the business week.  Surprise, when I woke up Sunday morning there was an e-mail for me to call them immediately…which of course I did.  We spoke and he offered seven thousand dollars, certified funds.  We had a deal!! By the way Chicago matched the offer which of course I had to refuse since I had made a deal and our word is our bond.   The only problem left was how to ship the piano cross country, but that turned out to be the easiest part as the buyer has piano movers under contract all over the country.  A week later, I met the mover at our client and the piano was history.

Judy and I learned a great lesson from this transaction.  No challenge is too small or too large and that there is almost nothing we can’t accomplish if we set our minds to it.  Hmmm…I wonder if our competitors go to such lengths??

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Published in: on May 8, 2010 at 6:33 am  Leave a Comment  

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